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What characteristics of an artwork serve to identify a piece as belonging to, or related to, Fluxus?

Historically many artists working in different media have related their work to Fluxus. Some of these artists belonged to a group surrounding the Lithuanian-American artist, George Maciunas, and the American artist, Dick Higgins. After the death of Maciunas, Higgins continued to promote Fluxus, eventually attracting a new generation of artists to the (non) movement, through the co-founding of an Internet mailing list—the Fluxlist. This new group of artists has continued the artistic practice of the first generation, while working towards maintaining the relevance of all generations, into the 21st century.

So what is Fluxus, and how can you know it when you see it?

The Fluxus artistic philosophy can be defined as a synthesis of four key factors that define the majority of work:

  1. Fluxus is an attitude. It is not a movement or a style.
  2. Fluxus is Intermedia. Fluxus creators like to see what happens when different media intersect. They use found and everyday objects, sounds, images, and texts to create new combinations of objects, sounds, images, and texts.
  3. Fluxus works are simple. The art is small, the texts are short, and the performances are brief.
  4. Fluxus is (usually) fun. Humor has always been an important element in Fluxus.

Fluxus artwork almost always exists in one (or more) of these three forms:

  1. Event scores
  2. Fluxkits/Fluxboxes
  3. Intermedia

Event Scores:

Event scores are similar to short musical scores or theatrical setting descriptions. Some are designed to be performed, and some are written to be read and imagined without ever actually being performed. Of those that are written to be performed, some may be designed to be performed only once and recorded (through written, photo, or video) documentation, while others are written so that they can be performed repeatedly. Associated artists who have made extensive use of event scores in their work include Yoko Ono and George Brecht. The musical compositions of John Cage and the "Happenings" of Allan Kaprow are also closely related to Fluxus event scores.

Fluxkits:

Fluxkits, also sometimes call Fluxboxes, are smallish (usually no larger than a shoe box or briefcase) objects, that are collections of other objects that hold meaning to the artist, and can be interacted with by the audience. Fluxkits have been produced as multiples in editions, and as unique, one-of-a-kind objects. Interactivity can consist of examination of the contents, rearrangement of the objects, or games in which the rules often resemble event scores. Artists who have received attention in the art-oriented mass media for their fluxkits and fluxboxes include George Maciunas (who coined the word "Fluxus"), Ay-O, and George Brecht. The first Fluxkits probably resulted from fresh interpretations of the work of dada artist, Marcel Duchamp, and have continued to influence present day Fluxus and mail artists.

Intermedia:

A third indicator of relatedness is the concept of "Intermedia". The important Fluxus artist, Dick Higgins, described Intermedia as a myriad of emerging genres that spilled across the boundaries of traditional media. In the intersections between the arts, mixed-media forms coalesced: Happenings, performance art, kinetic sculpture, and electronic theater (Higgins). Higgins suggests that Fluxus artists explore the territory that lies between art media and life media. The difficulty in using Intermedia as a determinant to identifying a particular artists or artwork as Fluxus is that it is not easy to identify what kind of objects exist in "the territory between art media and life media". However, performance art, video art, installation art, mail art, and time-based artworks are closely related even if not identified as such by either the artist or art critics.

It is safe to say that any work that closely resembles an Event Score or a Fluxkit/Fluxbox, is either Fluxus, or is closely related. It can also be argued that the combination of artistic intent (the artist states that the work is "Fluxus") with an intermedia presentation, is Fluxus.

And while I am aware of artists that believe that their work is Fluxus because they say it is, that claim, without other evidence, should be considered spurious.

Poster made by Allen Bukoff of Fluxus Midwest, after Fluxfest Chicago 2016. Allen has generously made downloadable and printable copies available on his website at,
fluxfest.org/somefluxus/SOMEFLUXUSPOSTER30x35.jpg or
fluxfest.org/somefluxus/SOMEFLUXUSPOSTERtabloid.jpg

This summer, Alison Knowles is making a salad—and she needs your help.

The legendary performance artist will be performing her seminal Make A Salad (1962) at Art Basel. However this is no ordinary meal. Performers will prepare various salad ingredients before emptying the contents onto a large tarp. Fair visitors and onlookers can participate by helping to toss the salad high into the air, before it is served.

Image of Alison Knowles Tossing a giant salad
Alison Knowles Salad Toss

The 82-year-old artist's work will be performed in "Unlimited," a platform which gives galleries and artists to display works that transcend the traditional art fair stand, such as large-scale sculptures, video projections, installations, or performance art.

Gianni Jetzer, a curator-at-large for the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, is curating "Unlimited" for the fifth consecutive year.

 

I decided it was time to make some of my smaller scale art works available for sale on the arts & crafts web marketplace, Etsy.com

I have drawings and paintings there, all of which stay pretty true to my Fluxus sensibilities. Check 'em out. Buy something! The prices are pretty darn low for original artwork from a famous artist like me.

My store is called (what else?) RED CIRCLE FLUXUS

go to the store now @ https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/RedCircleFluxus

Fluxfest Chicago 2016 Poster

FLUXFEST CHICAGO 2016
A Schedule of events:

Thursday, May 26th 4-7 PM
Exhibition Opening and Reception - "DO IT NOW" - Contemporary Networking in Mailart and Fluxus"
Joan Flasch Artistbook Library, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
37 S. Wabash Avenue, Suite 508, Chicago
* Dinner to follow at Italian Village, 71 W. Monroe, Chicago

Friday, May 27th 11-5 PM
CHICAGO FLUXUS DAY - Performances, Installations, Mailart Making, Mayhem ...
Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago
* as usual, we'll meet for breakfast around 9:30 or so at Patisserie Toni, 65 E. Washington St.

Friday, May 27th 7 PM
New York Correspondance School of Chicago Annual Dinner and Meeting -
Honoring William S. Wilson
The Berghoff, 17 West Adams, Chicago

Saturday, May 28th 10 AM - ?
A Tour of "A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s–1980s"
Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston
Fluxus Street Theatre
Guerrilla Performance activities on the Plaza at the Museum
* Dinner to follow at Union Pizzeria, 1245 Chicago Ave. Evanston

Sunday, May 29th 11-4 PM
Final Gathering: Potluck Performance, Conversation, Collaboration, Community ...
6018North - Chicago’s Home for Experimental Arts & Culture, 6018 North Kenmore, Edgewater
* Please bring food and drinks to share, Scores and Pieces to perform ...

Other ways to be involved :

1. " DO IT NOW "
is a call for Mailart, Objects, Documentation, Photos, Vispo, Artistamps, Net-Art, Letters, Artistbooks, Trashpo, Scores, and anything you can imagine. There are no boundaries to this show.
***THIS SHOW IS FOR THE ENTIRE AVANT GARDE COMMUNITY. MAILARTISTS, FLUXUS PEOPLE, NETWORKERS, POETS, ANTI-ARTISTS, STAMP MAKERS, NET-ARTISTS .... EVERYONE.
The idea is to show what we're working on NOW, your freshest ideas, in any medium .....
Works must be received by May 15th, 2016 for inclusion in this exhibition.
Works can be sent by mail to:

"NOW"
c/o Fluxus West
3449 Hartford St.
Saint Louis, Mo.
63118 U.S.A.
or send net - works by email to Keith9963@Sbcglobal.net
* please use "DO IT NOW" in the email title.

Exhibition will open May 26th and will run through June 2016 at the Joan Flasch Artistbook Library Gallery, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Illinois, U.S.A. and is curated by Keith A. Buchholz.

2. Send Multiples .......
Multiples and small artworks will be freely distributed to the public during our performance events on Saturday at the Chicago Cultural Center. Please send any type of multiple that you would like distributed and we will do so.
It's always great to put artwork into the hands of the people !!!
Deadline for inclusion is May 10th, 2016
Multiples can be sent to:

FLUXFEST
C/O FLUXUS WEST
3449 Hartford Street
Saint Louis, Mo.
63118 U.S.A.

3. Send us a Score or Performance idea.
Email us your Scores or Performance Ideas that we can realize at the festival.
Scores that we receive will be distributed among participants and performed during one of the week's events. we will present the work as your piece, and email you after the event to let you know where it was performed.
Scores must be sent by May 10th, 2016 for inclusion.
Send Scores to :

Keith9963@sbcglobal.net with the header "Fluxfest Score".

Questions, Concerns, Ideas ???
Please contact Keith Buchholz by Email at Keith9963@sbcglobal.net
Thanks !

Keith A. Buchholz
Director, Fluxus West

Is Fluxus still relevant in 2016?

Let me make it easy for you dear reader. The (short) answer to this question is an unequivocal, "YES!"

If you're still reading, I'll assume that you have some interest in knowing why Fluxus, a "movement" from the early 1960s remains relevant (and dare I say important?) in the early years of the twenty-first century. Let me answer this in three parts. What Fluxus was. What Fluxus is. Why Fluxus is still important.

  1. What Fluxus Was:
    This question has been answered many times, by many people, so I'll provide an answer here, but won't dwell upon it. Fluxus grew out of the art and attitudes of the avant-gardes in America, Europe, and Japan in the late 1950s. It was heavily influenced by a group of artists at Black Mountain College, and by the composer John Cage (who in turn was influenced by Zen Buddhism). By the early 1960s a small group of artists collected around the Lithuanian-American artist George Maciunas, who coined the term, "Fluxus" to describe the group and the art that they were making in 1961. One of those artists was the American, Dick Higgins, whose background in academia provided the group with much of its theoretical legitimacy.

    Higgins drafted a 9 point set of criteria that he felt described what Fluxus was.…there are some points in common among most Fluxworks: 1 internationalism, 2 experimentalism and iconoclasm, 3 intermedia, 4 minimalism or concentration, 5 an attempted resolution of the art/life dichotomy, 6 implicativeness, 7 play or gags, 8 ephemerality, and 9 specificity. Later, Ken Friedman (an early member of Fluxus, and later, a respected Fluxus historian), expanded Higgins original 9 points into a 12 point thesis. And later still, Allan Revich (a contemporary Fluxus artist and theorist; and author of this blog) condensed the essence of Fluxus into a simpler and more elegant, 4 points. These four points are the essential elements that bind the Fluxus of the 1960s to the Fluxus of today:

    1. Fluxus is an attitude. It is not a movement or a style.
    2. Fluxus is intermedia. Fluxus creators like to see what happens when different media intersect. They use found and everyday objects, sounds, images, and texts to create new combinations of objects, sounds, images, and texts.
    3. Fluxus works are simple. The art is small, the texts are short, and the performances are brief.
    4. Fluxus is fun. Humor has always been an important element in Fluxus.
  2.  What Fluxus Is:
    Today a number of artists throughout the world continue to work in the traditions and manner of Fluxus. These artists internalize the Fluxus attitude, and integrate it into their art-making. They mostly eschew the hyperactive capitalist pig-feeding frenzy that the so New York based art market has spawned, as well as the fluffy decorative object flea market that exists outside of the big money world of investment bankers and status-starved billionaires.

    In the early 2000s a group of Fluxus artists, bound together at first by the online "Fluxlist" community (co-founded by Fluxus co-founder Dick Higgins) began to once again host and attend major international Fluxfests. First in New York City, and later in Chicago. These festivals have mostly been organized by St. Louis based, Keith Buchholz (first with help from Allan Revich of Toronto and support from the Emily Harvey Foundation in Manhattan, and later with help from artist Bill (Picasso) Gaglione and curator Tricia Van Eck). This group of artists has remained true to the Four Fluxus Ideas.

  3. Why Fluxus is Still Relevant:
    The ideas and ideals of Fluxus form a perfect counterpoint to the twin evils currently dominating the international art market. Fluxus practices run completely counter to unbridled greedy capitalist money games, and to the reams of decorative pap and crap of the poster shops and home-decor markets.

    Fluxus practice also provides the only real counterpoint to another emerging problem of the contemporary art scene—a problem that I consider more dangerous to art than even the big-money art market; academia. Partly because of the art market, and partly because of new political agendas (all of which are politically important), the academy has become completely dominated by hyphenated arts. Feminist-art. Liberation-art. Gender-art. Theme-art. Arts Informed Research art. As I mentioned (in parenthesis above) the ideas and ideals behind these politics are not a problem. In fact (IMHO) it's "high time" that issues like gender and feminism became mainstream in academia! What is a problem, is that art that is NOT infused with another agenda seems to have become completely lost in the academy—with the sole exception of institutions bent on producing MFA graduates ready to compete in Money Game Art.

    Finally, Fluxus provides something that the only other real alternate art movement, Dada, does not. Fluxus provides a sense of levity, and hopefulness, that is not necessarily a core part of Dada. Dada has its roots in the post WWI world of despair and hopelessness, so it's often sad and nihilistic.

    Fluxus may be the only artistic practice still capable of providing the special combination of gravitas and levity from which truly great and important art emerges.

It's ON Folks!
 May 26th through 29th

A series of events will happen in Chicago,
as well as a Mailart show, Live Art, Score performances, a salute to the 100th anniversary of DADA, and more.

Details and Festival Poster to follow soon. In the meantime, mark your calendars, book your hotel, and reserve your flight.

It's gonna be FABULOUS!

Our favorite contemporary German Fluxus artists, Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Bär have done it again. They've just released LP Album number 299 in their Psych.KG series. Number 299 is especially special to me, because I'm included on it!

http://www.discogs.com/Various-FLUXUS/release/7880021

Fluxus Album Art cover2Hjuler Image Festival (Google Result)

Photo of Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Bear
Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Bear

Charlotte Moorman Performance
Charlotte Moorman Performance

Some Fluxus artists picketed the festival in 1964, others performed in it—a number did both.

Lecture Demonstration: Dear George...Love, Charlotte: Fluxus in the Annual Avant Garde Festivals Wednesday, February 10, 6:00pm Block Museum

"Dear George… Love Charlotte" will illuminate parts of a social and aesthetic network that connected Charlotte Moorman and the Annual Avant Garde Festivals to Fluxus, despite the protestations of Fluxus’ major-domo, George Maciunas. Originating Fluxus artists such as Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins and Jackson Mac Low were regular participants; Yoko Ono, Emmett Williams and George Brecht were represented in performance. Some Fluxus artists picketed the festival in 1964, others performed in it—a number did both. This international Fluxus family argued, celebrated, and created together or through the mail. Incorporating readings and events, Simon Anderson—Associate Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Fluxus historian—will discuss their antics and perform some of their work, revealing a few of the elements that divided and conjoined these artists during this transformational period.

Block Museum of Art, Mary and Leigh
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208 map it

http://planitpurple.northwestern.edu/event/487568

Jackson Mac Low (September 12, 1922 – December 8, 2004), an early affiliate of the original group of Fluxus artists that surrounded George Maciunas, held distinction as being the first "poet of Fluxus". While many Fluxus artists incorporated (and incorporate) text and visual poetry into the work, Mac Low was the first whose primary creative output was based in poetics. He was one of the key progenitors of mid-century chance operations for artistic creation output.

In a 2014 exhibition at MoMA Mac Low was featured in The Poetry of Silence: Jackson Mac Low’s Drawing-Asymmetry

Jackson Mac Low. Drawing-Asymmetry #5. 1961. Ink and colored ink on paper, 8 9/16 x 11 7/8″ (21.7 x 30.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, 2008. © 2014 The Estate of Jackson Mac Low
Jackson Mac Low. Drawing-Asymmetry #5. 1961. Ink and colored ink on paper, 8 9/16 x 11 7/8″ (21.7 x 30.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, 2008. © 2014 The Estate of Jackson Mac Low

In an excerpt from the exhibition text, Jordan Carter writes,

In 1960, one year prior to beginning the Drawing-Asymmetry series, Jackson Mac Low collaborated with John Cage and Judith Malina to direct a chance-based theater piece for The Living Theatre. The play, A Marrying Maiden, was comprised of text sourced randomly from an existing classic. Mac Low added to the dynamism of the spectacle by distributing an “action pack” of 1,400 instruction cards among the performers. Like with the Drawing-Asymmetry series, the lines and commands that structured A Marrying Maiden deconstruct and reconstruct language, employing alternative syntaxes that are equally surprising for the director, performers, and listeners. In the early 1960s, Mac Low’s poems and theater pieces were performed at Malina’s the Living Theatre, Yoko Ono’s Chamber Street Loft, and Fluxus founder George Maciunas’s AG Gallery.

Mac Low lamented, however, that Maciunas never adequately integrated poetry into the scheme of the Fluxus oeuvre...

The complete article by Jordan Carter is available on the MoMa website here.

It seems as though nearly everyone I meet, who isn't "into" Fluxus, doesn't know much about Fluxus. I.E/ They've never heard of it!

I've come up with these four commonalities that encompasses most Fluxus work , and most of the Fluxus Philosophy.

  1. Fluxus is an attitude. It is not a movement or a style.[84
  2. Fluxus is intermedia.[85] Fluxus creators like to see what happens when different media intersect. They use found and everyday objects, sounds, images, and texts to create new combinations of objects, sounds, images, and texts.
  3. Fluxus works are simple. The art is small, the texts are short, and the performances are brief.
  4. Fluxus is fun. Humor has always been an important element in Fluxus.

You can also go to Wikipedia to get a bit more of the basics.
Fluxus on Wikipedia

Better still, buy and read one or more of these books.